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Afghanistan--Strategy Gone Wild

Posted By James Carafano On October 8, 2009 @ 10:22 am In Security | Comments Disabled

The White House turned strategy-making on its head. What they are doing will fail and fail in spectacular style.

Here is how strategy making is supposed to work. The president makes the hardest decisions up front. He defines the mission…the goals and makes a commitment on the resources that will be dedicated to reach the goals.

Witness FDR on the eve of World War II or Ike during the Cold War, each started by leading…they knew the goal, non-negotiable surrender for WW II, containment for the Cold War, before they started. They also knew how much national treasure they’d commit, everything for FDR, 50 percent of the federal budget for Ike. They also had confidence in their leadership. They led the American people, that’s what war leaders do, they didn’t let the polls lead them.

Then they set the strategists to working drafting the strategies to win. We have plenty of evidence Obama has turned this process on its head.He sent a general off to right a strategy without a mission [1]. He was not clear on his goals. He didn’t know to what lengths he’d go to fight his “war of necessity.” When the general came back with a politically incorrect strategy, one that didn’t fit the domestic agenda, the president just started shopping for a new strategy. That meant rooting around for new goals and ways that were more politically acceptable.

The admission that the president is unsure of the mission in Afghanistan and unsure of how far he’ll go to win is a colossal demonstration of a crisis in presidential leadership.

Why do we care if the president learns the painful lessons of poor strategy making on the job? Because we’ll feel the pain.

In adjusting the strategy to what is desirable rather than what is necessary to win a necessary war the president starts down the road to defeat.

The president probably won’t chose to do less in Afghanistan, at least right away, because he can’t afford to look too soft on national security, but he is not likely to do much more. This incremental strategy is bound to fail, because the enemy will just incrementally adjust, and for them not losing is winning, for us not winning is losing.

A strategy driven by political accommodation rather than the reality of warfare is folly.


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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/10/08/afghanistan-strategy-gone-wild/

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[1] He sent a general off to right a strategy without a mission: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/07/AR2009100704088.html

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